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A Tallahassee entrepreneur strives to save restaurants big bucks on their food delivery service

Foodies founder Dustin Rivest
Tom Flanigan
Foodies founder Dustin Rivest

Dustin Rivest thinks his business model will gain traction in a highly competitive arena

A Tallahassee tech start-up wants to take on the big guns in the restaurant food delivery game. Tom Flanigan reports Foodies Takeout and Delivery is focused on providing a deal that local restaurant owners just can't refuse.

Tech and marketing entrepreneur Dustin Rivest founded Foodies and runs it from a modest collection of small offices on West Caronlia Street. He said the big national food delivery services all have the same business model.

"Door Dash and Grub Hub, Uber Eats and Postmates, they all take from 20 to 30% of the restaurant's revenue and then they still charge a delivery fee or a convenience fee to the customer."

The National Restaurant Association says more than 40% of restaurant business now involves delivery services. Even in Tallahassee, Rivest said that works out to a lot of money heading out of town to the big delivery companies' headquarters, most in California.

"Tallahassee is literally spending between $10 and $11 million a month in take out and delivery."

Rivest explained Foodies collects only a customer delivery fee and charges restaurants nothing. He even offers the restaurants a bunch of freebies.

"We give them a free tablet to receive the orders. We give them a free printer if they need it. We give them software for free and don't charge them a monthly fee. Also, we'll build out their menu, do email marketing and text messaging for free."

But not every restaurant is on the Foodies client list.

"McDonalds is not on there. Chik-fil-A is not on there. Moe's Southwest Grill is not on there. What's on there is local restaurants, run by local merchants."

One of these local clients is Jeri Desloge, the owner of Jeri's Love on a Plate on Market Street. She said Rivest's business has saved hers - and her customers - a lot of money.

"It's been a win-win situation with the buttons on my website saying, 'Order Here' and it goes straight to Foodies. So we're trying to get people to go in that direction because then they don't have to pay the Uber Eats price. They can pay regular store prices as if they were eating in."

In fact, Desloge blamesd the high cost of delivery for at least some of the recent hike in restaurant prices. So she's spreading the word about Foodies to other eateries.

"My friends who own restaurants, they say, 'No, it's too good to be true.' But it is! It's true and it's amazing."

Foodies founder Dustin Rivest said the firm's pace of growth has been rapid.

"(We) have about 60 restaurants here locally signed up. We're processing about 5,000 orders a month and have another 100 restaurants we need to get on board.

Meanwhile, he's already looking outside the Capital City. He said Foodies will move into the Mexico Beach market, a place that now has NO third-party food delivery service - in the new few months.

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